Survival Skills

10 Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That Most Of Us Have Forgotten)

Blacksmith’s forge like the one in our village

Not quite what you normally think of when somebody mentions gardening or biodynamics but I think this is really important. Like the author of the article, I know lots of these skills. My parents, uncles, aunts and the people in the village taught me all the skills he talks about …

  1. Growing our own food
  2. Animal Husbandry
  3. Butchering an animal
  4. Food Preservation
  5. Blacksmithing
  6. Basic Carpentry
  7. Basic Mechanical Repairs
  8. Herbal Medicine
  9. Horseback Riding
  10. Hunting

Margaret (BD friend) leading her hens home of an evening

the sort of hen-house Uncle Perce used

I wasn’t too brilliant at blacksmithing and carpentry, slightly better at mechanical repairs and reasonable at butchery! I was (and still am) a damned good gardener. I was good at animal husbandry. One of my first pocket-money jobs was to care for my uncle’s hens who lived in his 4 acre orchard. I had to let them out of the big huts-on-wheels they lived in every morning, feed them and collect the eggs they’d laid then, in the evening feed them, collect the eggs and put them back in the huts, safe from the fox.

I also had a job bringing the cows in for the evening milking and, over midwinter to help the farmer’s wife with the turkeys and geese. And I had to care for my own ponies so, of course, I rode and was very good at that too 🙂

My stepmother and aunt taught me lots of preserving techniques, making jams, chutneys, cordials and canning, salt-preserving, putting the root veg into a clamp, all sorts of things. my aunts and the next-door neighbour were all good herbalists and taught me their lore. I was less good at this and still only have the basics! We used to make bread as well although there was an excellent bakery in the village where we mostly got our bread, but most of us learned to make it ourselves too, the baker taught us on the weekend. People in the village made butter and cheese too – cheese came about as a way of keeping milk over the winter when the cow would not be lactating.

Dad taught me lots of mechanics – he had been a racing driver and maintained his own cars so I enjoyed helping. And one of my uncles was a very good hunter and taught me a lot. Dad also used to shoot for the pot so I learned to use a gun but was never very good – I’ve never had good eyesight! Da also used to fly-fish and I got pretty good at that.

When i was growing up it was fun to work with and help my parents, relations and others in the village. you also learned a lot … and had a lot of respect for the older folk. I really feel sorry for the majority of kids nowadays who never have this experience. I know a few kids who do and they are such fun to be with, they really light up my day and they’re rarely whiney and horrid and several of them are teenagers and they certainly don’t act like most people say of their kids!

How many of these skills do you know? And your children?


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